Fortune (left) scored two goals for Celtic in Perth
By Clive Lindsay
Marc-Antoine Fortune scored twice as Celtic came from behind to overwhelm 10-man St Johnstone and move to within seven points of league leaders Rangers.
Saints had taken a 12th-minute lead when Liam Craig scored from the penalty spot after Steven Milne was felled.
But Graham Gartland was sent off in the 46th minute for fouling Fortune.
Two superb Fortune finishes, a Georgios Samaras' volleyed goal and a sublime Paddy McCourt drive were reward for relentless Celtic pressure.
Celtic manager Tony Mowbray, whose side have another game in hand over reigning Scottish Premier League champions Rangers, had been forced to change his starting line-up after an injury picked up by Lee Naylor.
Josh Thompson, just 18, was given his first start in the heart of defence, with Darren O'Dea moving to left-back.
Craig opened the scoring from the penalty spot for St Johnstone
The restructured defence was breached after just 12 minutes when Saints were awarded a penalty kick.
It was not clear whether it was a push by Loovens or a clip on the heels by O'Dea that floored Milne, but there was no mistake from the spot as Craig sent Artur Boruc the wrong way.
That had been the first real threat from the home side and Celtic upped the tempo further as they threatened an instant reply and Zheng Zhi had a powerful low drive cleared off the line by Jody Morris.
Celtic suffered a further blow after 23 minutes when Glenn Loovens was carried off with what appeared to be a facial injury.
Without a central defender on the bench, O'Dea covered for the missing Dutchman, with Paul Caddis coming on at left-back.
The injury appeared to knock Celtic out of their stride and St Johnstone, who had started the match by adding Murray Davidson to midfield in place of striker Peter MacDonald, were enjoying more possession without creating any chances.
Celtic came back into the game as the first half came to a close and Niall McGinn missed a great chance in stoppage time, goalkeeper Graeme Smith saving from point-blank range when the winger was played in behind the defence.
St Johnstone were reduced to 10 men in Celtic's first attack after the break when Gartland, who had already been booked, was sent off for hauling back Fortune.
O'Dea's mirror image miss
It was a correct decision even though the Celtic striker looked to have already lost control as he attempted to gather a Samaras flick-on.
Celtic made nothing from the free-kick from outside the box but were soon piling on the pressure, with Aiden McGeady firing wildly over and Samaras somehow shooting against the outside of the post from close range.
Goalkeeper Smith superbly tipped wide an O'Dea shot on the turn, but the inevitable breakthrough came after 64 minutes.
Samaras played it wide to Fortune and the Frenchman fired a superb 20-yard drive into the far top corner of the net.
Caddis forced a fine save from Smith with a low drive towards the near post and, after the goalkeeper palmed clear a low McGeady drive, O'Dea somehow turned the rebound wide from close range.
Smith produced another excellent stop to deny substitute McCourt, but the goalkeeper could do nothing when Thompson nodded down for Samaras to volley home from 15 yards after 77 minutes.
Fortune produced a clinical, close-range finish after the Saints goalkeeper had produced another block after 81 minutes and McCourt added to Saints' misery with a weaving run and excellent drive into the far top corner.
St Johnstone manager Derek McInnes: "I don't think there's any doubt the red card changed the game.
"I would suggest we were the best side in the first half. I felt we caused Celtic a lot of problems and the players' appetite and attitude towards the game was fantastic.
"It was difficult to stop. Once you went down to 10 men against a team like Celtic it becomes difficult.
"We stemmed the tide for a wee bit and we stretched the game, but they have players who can hurt you on the counter-attack.
"But their goals were great finishes, and we're disappointed with the end result, because my players didn't deserve that."
Celtic manager Tony Mowbray: "It was two different halves. In the first half, they made it ultra-competitive.
"You have to give them a lot of credit for turning it into a physical affair. We stood our ground as much as our physicality allows.
"Obviously, the sending off at the start of the second-half allowed us to move the ball around quicker and their legs tired on a what was a very heavy pitch, and the rewards came.
"The goals came in the end, with some quality finishes, so I'm happy enough.
"My message at half-time was to keep playing football and keep moving the ball around the pitch, and things will turn.
"It's not a philosophy that changes with the wind. If you believe in what you do and the players are brave enough to keep going, you'll get your rewards in the end."
90:00+1:58 The referee blows for the end of the match.
90:00+0:23 Niall McGinn has an effort at goal from outside the box which misses left.
89:35 Steven Anderson challenges Georgios Samaras unfairly and gives away a free kick. Georgios Samaras delivers the ball from the
free kick right-footed from right wing.
87:56 Centre by Liam Craig.
87:10 Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on David MacKay by Georgios Samaras. Direct free kick taken by Gary Irvine.
85:48 Assist by Paul McGowan.
85:48 GOAL - Patrick McCourt:St Johnstone 1 - 4 Celtic Patrick McCourt finds the back of the net with a goal from the edge of the penalty box to the top right corner of the goal.
St Johnstone 1-4 Celtic.
82:59 Patrick McCourt takes a shot. Clearance by Steven Anderson.
82:05 Peter MacDonald takes a shot. Save by Artur Boruc.
80:50 GOAL - Marc-Antoine Fortune:St Johnstone 1 - 3 Celtic Marc-Antoine Fortune gets on the score sheet with a goal from inside the six-yard box to the bottom right corner of the goal.
St Johnstone 1-3 Celtic.
79:48 Outswinging corner taken from the right by-line by Aiden McGeady, David MacKay manages to make a clearance. Patrick McCourt
takes a shot. Save made by Graeme Smith.
79:25 Peter MacDonald sends in a cross.
78:21 Shot from just outside the box by Kevin Moon misses to the left of the target.
77:40 Outswinging corner taken from the left by-line by Liam Craig, Georgios Samaras manages to make a clearance.
77:07 Substitution Kevin Moon on for Murray Davidson.
77:07 Booking The referee cautions Georgios Samaras for unsporting behaviour.
76:06 Assist on the goal came from Josh Thompson.
76:06 GOAL - Georgios Samaras:St Johnstone 1 - 2 Celtic Georgios Samaras gets on the score sheet with a goal from the edge of the penalty area to the bottom right corner of the goal.
St Johnstone 1-2 Celtic.
75:23 Patrick McCourt takes a shot. Save made by Graeme Smith. Corner taken right-footed by Paul Caddis from the left by-line, Liam
Craig manages to make a clearance.
74:37 The ball is sent over by Aiden McGeady, clearance by David MacKay.
72:53 Aiden McGeady takes a shot. Save made by Graeme Smith. Shot from close range by Darren O'Dea misses to the left of the target.
71:21 Niall McGinn delivers the ball, clearance by Steven Anderson.
69:39 Inswinging corner taken right-footed by Paul Caddis from the left by-line, Close range header by Georgios Samaras goes over
69:33 The ball is swung over by Patrick McCourt, blocked by Graeme Smith.
69:00 Free kick awarded for a foul by Jody Morris on Georgios Samaras. Georgios Samaras takes the direct free kick.
66:32 Shot by Paul Caddis from 12 yards. Save by Graeme Smith. Corner taken by Paul Caddis, Shot from inside the area by Marc-Antoine
Fortune clears the bar.
65:36 The ball is delivered by Marc-Antoine Fortune, Murray Davidson manages to make a clearance.
64:50 The ball is sent over by Chris Millar.
63:39 The assist for the goal came from Paul McGowan.
63:39 GOAL - Marc-Antoine Fortune:St Johnstone 1 - 1 Celtic Marc-Antoine Fortune grabs a goal from just inside the area to the top left corner of the goal. St Johnstone 1-1 Celtic.
62:38 Graeme Smith takes the free kick.
62:38 Substitution (St Johnstone) makes a substitution, with Peter MacDonald coming on for Kenny Deuchar.
62:38 Graeme Smith fouled by Georgios Samaras, the ref awards a free kick.
62:19 Paul McGowan takes a shot. Save made by Graeme Smith.
61:24 Aiden McGeady takes a shot. Blocked by Steven Anderson.
60:21 Substitution Paul McGowan on for Zheng Zhi.
59:25 Paul Caddis has an effort at goal from outside the box which goes wide right of the target.
58:33 Corner taken by Marc Crosas from the right by-line to the near post, Darren O'Dea takes a shot. Save by Graeme Smith. Marc
Crosas takes a outswinging corner.
58:01 Centre by Marc-Antoine Fortune, Daniel Grainger gets a block in. Outswinging corner taken right-footed by Aiden McGeady played
to the near post, clearance made by Liam Craig.
55:43 Substitution Patrick McCourt replaces Andreas Hinkel.
55:43 A cross is delivered by Marc-Antoine Fortune, Shot from close range by Georgios Samaras misses to the right of the target.
55:05 Corner taken by Marc Crosas from the right by-line played to the near post, Liam Craig manages to make a clearance.
53:28 Aiden McGeady takes a shot from close in clearing the crossbar.
52:57 Foul by Daniel Grainger on Niall McGinn, free kick awarded. Marc Crosas takes the direct free kick.
50:51 Aiden McGeady produces a cross, clearance by David MacKay.
50:43 A cross is delivered by Paul Caddis, Murray Davidson makes a clearance.
49:10 Kenny Deuchar challenges Andreas Hinkel unfairly and gives away a free kick. Artur Boruc restarts play with the free kick.
48:49 The ball is delivered by Chris Millar.
47:26 Free kick awarded for a foul by Darren O'Dea on Kenny Deuchar. Free kick taken by Gary Irvine.
47:01 Substitution Steven Anderson comes on in place of Steven Milne.
46:41 Georgios Samaras crosses the ball.
45:23 Strike comes in from Aiden McGeady from the free kick.
45:23 Sent off The referee red cards Graham Gartland for professional foul.
45:11 Graham Gartland concedes a free kick for a foul on Marc-Antoine Fortune.
45:01 The referee blows his whistle to start the second half.
45:00+4:13 The referee calls an end to the first half.
45:00+3:42 Unfair challenge on David MacKay by Georgios Samaras results in a free kick. Free kick taken by Graeme Smith.
45:00+3:17 David MacKay challenges Aiden McGeady unfairly and gives away a free kick. Free kick taken by Marc Crosas.
45:00+2:08 Niall McGinn takes a shot. Graeme Smith makes a save.
45:00+2:02 Marc-Antoine Fortune delivers the ball.
45:00+1:16 Niall McGinn fouled by Daniel Grainger, the ref awards a free kick. The free kick is swung in right-footed by Marc Crosas,
clearance by David MacKay.
45:00+0:12 Daniel Grainger sends in a cross, Liam Craig produces a header from the edge of the box and misses to the right of the target.
44:03 Shot on goal by Niall McGinn from just inside the area clears the crossbar.
43:38 Unfair challenge on Paul Caddis by David MacKay results in a free kick. Marc Crosas restarts play with the free kick.
43:25 The ball is swung over by Paul Caddis, clearance by Graham Gartland.
40:27 The ball is sent over by Niall McGinn, blocked by Daniel Grainger. The ball is crossed by Marc Crosas, Headed effort from
close range by Darren O'Dea goes wide left of the target.
39:32 Paul Caddis crosses the ball in from the free kick, clearance made by David MacKay.
39:32 Booking Graham Gartland receives a caution.
39:28 Graham Gartland gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Aiden McGeady.
37:19 Chris Millar gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Paul Caddis. Marc Crosas crosses the ball from the free kick
right-footed from left wing, David MacKay manages to make a clearance.
34:38 Shot from just outside the box by Marc-Antoine Fortune goes over the target.
33:36 Foul by Jody Morris on Georgios Samaras, free kick awarded. Darren O'Dea restarts play with the free kick.
32:49 Foul by Marc Crosas on Kenny Deuchar, free kick awarded. Daniel Grainger takes the direct free kick.
31:34 Centre by Niall McGinn.
30:38 Shot on goal by Niall McGinn from inside the box goes harmlessly over the target.
27:31 Gary Irvine produces a cross, save made by Artur Boruc.
26:19 Gary Irvine delivers the ball, clearance by Niall McGinn.
25:47 Liam Craig takes the inswinging corner, clearance made by Andreas Hinkel.
25:38 Centre by Jody Morris, Darren O'Dea gets a block in.
25:10 Steven Milne produces a cross, Josh Thompson gets a block in.
22:06 Substitution Paul Caddis replaces Glenn Loovens.
18:44 Unfair challenge on Aiden McGeady by Gary Irvine results in a free kick. Direct free kick taken by Aiden McGeady.
17:46 Daniel Grainger has an effort at goal. Josh Thompson gets a block in.
17:15 Kenny Deuchar fouled by Josh Thompson, the ref awards a free kick. Liam Craig takes the free kick.
15:56 The ball is delivered by Marc Crosas, Graeme Smith makes a save.
14:58 Marc-Antoine Fortune takes a shot. Save by Graeme Smith. Corner taken right-footed by Marc Crosas from the right by-line,
clearance by Liam Craig. Marc Crosas crosses the ball, Zheng Zhi takes a shot. Blocked by Graham Gartland.
13:42 Corner taken right-footed by Marc Crosas from the left by-line, Graeme Smith makes a save. Zheng Zhi takes a shot. Blocked
by Jody Morris.
11:52 GOAL - Liam Craig:St Johnstone 1 - 0 Celtic Penalty taken left-footed by Liam Craig and scored. St Johnstone 1-0 Celtic.
11:06 Unfair challenge on Steven Milne by Glenn Loovens results in a Penalty.
10:00 Murray Davidson produces a cross.
8:45 Chris Millar sends in a cross, Josh Thompson manages to make a clearance.
4:20 Free kick awarded for a foul by Kenny Deuchar on Glenn Loovens. Free kick taken by Artur Boruc.
3:42 Niall McGinn produces a cross.
2:47 Glenn Loovens challenges Kenny Deuchar unfairly and gives away a free kick. Direct free kick taken by Gary Irvine.
2:18 Shot from outside the area by Zheng Zhi misses to the left of the target.
Correction - 0:14 Foul by Liam Craig on Marc-Antoine Fortune, free kick awarded. Free kick taken by Zheng Zhi.
0:14 Liam Craig gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Marc-Antoine Fortune. Marc Crosas takes the free kick.
0:00 The match has kicked off.
Live text and data provided by The Press Association.
This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.